Drawing Lessons from Gandhi’s Spotty Academic Record and Education

Monday, January 7, 2019

On the 150th birth anniversary of the Mahatma, I thought it fitting to learn about the nation’s founder, beyond the drab and mostly forgotten facts from uninspiring history textbooks. Coincidentally, towards the end of 2018, the historian Ramachandra Guha has released the second volume of his magnificent and sprawling biography, Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World. I’m less than halfway through the first volume, Gandhi Before India, and completely gripped by the little-known stories,

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When an MIT Philosophy Professor Has a Midlife Crisis

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

In the 1999 film, American Beauty, the protagonist Lester Burnham embarks on rather stereotypical responses to what one might term his midlife ennui. He trades his unexciting Toyota Camry for a zippier 1970 Pontiac Firebird, and lusts after his teenage daughter’s best friend.

Kieran Setiya, who is currently a philosophy professor at MIT, rejects such a cliched return to adolescence – a sports car, an extramarital fling, marijuana or an impulsive career change.

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Striking Parallels Between Steve Jobs and Freddie Mercury

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, was recently drawing crowds at theatres across the globe. The UK band, Queen, received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Grammys. The group, fronted by the confounding, layered, complex Freddie Mercury continues to seize the world’s attention an astonishing twenty-seven years after its star performer died at Kensington, London. Even in Bengaluru, the city I inhabit, the radio channels were abuzz with specially-curated Queen events at local clubs or trivia about the musician’s life.

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Creating from the Heart: 13th Century Sufi Poet, Rumi

Friday, November 16, 2018

Emotions and Creativity

Creativity, to begin with a cliché, is often considered an exercise in ‘thinking outside the box.’ The phrase, however hackneyed or tired-sounding, does urge one to shatter boundaries, a necessary step to usher newness or innovation in any sphere. My quibble, however, is with the word ‘think.’ It seems to denote that creativity is primarily a cerebral exercise, one in which the intellect is ordered to willfully wander into new terrains. What it fails to encompass is the role of feelings,

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The Story Behind Bangalore Calling

Saturday, October 13, 2018

As a cool twelve-year-old, I would have been the last to admit my father had a vernacular accent. Like most children of a generation born at the cusp of India’s independence, he had studied in a regional language (Tamil medium) school. As a result, he was as conversant in Tamil as he was in English. While his English was grammatically faultless, his accent, from our perspective, was infected by his ‘so-sad Tamil’ upbringing. My mother on the other hand,

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La Grande Jatte and The Anxieties of the Middle Class

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Georges Seurat’s life was a brief flash on the planet. The French Neo-Impressionist painter, who lived in the 1880s, died of diphtheria at the age of 31. And yet, during his fleeting existence, Seurat accomplished a density of work that was to reshape the manner in which future artists would contend with perspective and color and technique.

He was the inventor of Pointillism, a method by which tiny daubs of color are applied to a scene.

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Design Thinking and Beyond: What Bollywood Can Teach You

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Develop your own unique idiom

Right from its inception, Indian cinema has always resisted the imposition of other sensibilities. During the colonial era, British rulers often attempted to manage and control the cinema to service the Empire’s aims. They were, in fact, explicitly afraid of the cinema’s influence over illiterate viewers who flocked to the theatres in numbers that overwhelmed newspaper and book readers. But even post Independence, cinema continued to ignore the nationalist urges sought by the newly formed government.

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Habits of Highly Creative People: Learn to Hack Like a Painter From Paul Graham

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Paul Graham is a founder of Y Combinator, the famed accelerator in Silicon Valley that has spawned many champion startups, including Dropbox, Airbnb and Reddit.

Yet his personal website (paulgraham.com) eschews the blaring self-promotion we associate with our celebrity-mediated age. But don’t be deceived by its starkness or skip over the large chunks of text that pop up on his blog. Because Graham has an unusual Renaissance mind, and some of the insights offered by the understated technology veteran are relevant to creators in all fields,

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Habits of Highly Creative People: Learn to Procrastinate like Leonardo da Vinci

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Recently, the Salvator Mundi, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci that depicts Jesus Christ as the Savior of the World, shattered auction records, selling for a stunning $450 Million. Also, last year, the meticulous and imaginative Walter Isaacson, who was commissioned by Steve Jobs to document his own life, released a new biography of the Italian Maestro. Isaacson was inspired to delve into Da Vinci’s life because of Jobs’ intense veneration of the artist, scientist,

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Habits of Highly Creative People: Learn To Transcend Humiliation from a Nobel Laureate

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Subrahmanyam Chandrasekhar

Many creators are told to steel themselves for rejection. However, most people expect to receive due credit for their work or talents after a reasonable period of struggle or anonymity. But what if that period were to last fifty-three years? What if a discovery you made at the age of 19 was to be adequately recognized only when you reached the age of 73? Can you still plod through the interim years,

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Habits of Highly Creative People: What You Can Learn From Sherlock Holmes

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Today 221 B Baker Street houses a museum. Sherlock Holmes, one of the most enduring literary characters created by a 20th Century author, still commands a massive and ardent following. He is so deeply woven into our collective imagination, that some people believe that he was a real historical figure. The four novels and fifty-six short stories spun by Arthur Conan Doyle have inspired countless spinoffs – other novels, plays, movies, short stories and TV series.

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Design Thinking and Beyond: What Mumbai can Teach You

Friday, July 27, 2018

Most Mumbaikars would agree that the city has a distinct character. Some dwell on its resilience (its lightning-quick recovery after every monsoon flood), some on its diversity or syncretic character (though this has been shattered now and then by riots or by the growing stronghold of communal forces), some on its throbbing activity, some on its stark and rising inequalities (brilliantly chronicled in James Crabtree’s recent book, The Billionaire Raj).

Mumbai also gives rise to a special ingenuity,

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Habits of Highly Creative People: What You Can Learn From Sigmund Freud

Monday, July 23, 2018

Forego Status to Pursue Knowledge

Unlike many other great creators, Freud succeeded at school. According to Howard Gardner in Creating Minds, he had the kind of prodigious brain that could have mastered any of a diverse range of fields. But after gaining a medical degree, he deliberately chose not to establish a practice, because his greed for knowledge superseded his desire for respect inside Viennese circles.

Even later, his choice of domain was a risky undertaking.

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